Report: Arsenal 2-1 Leicester

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Danny Welbeck returned from injury to score a last minute winner and keep Arsenal’s title hopes alive.

Leicester’s jammy goit Jamie Vardy had put the Foxes ahead when he fooled referee Martin Atkinson into giving him a penalty in the 45th minute. Monreal was called for a foul in the box after Vardy had kicked the ball out of play to his right and ran left to crash into the Arsenal man. Replays clearly showed Vardy kicking the back of Monreal’s leg but Atkinson pointed to the spot and Vardy dispatched the penalty.

It was Leicester’s League leading eighth penalty goal of the season and 17% of their total goals haul this season have been awarded by the referees.

Even setting aside the penalty, the officials seemed to struggle with this game. In the 9th minute, Arsenal were denied a nailed on stonewall clear-cut obvious unmissable handball in the box by Kanté. That blown call was followed up by several poor offside calls for both teams and then Arsenal were called for three yellow cards for slight fouls. But it was Vardy who was “very clever” to win a penalty and put the Foxes ahead.

The first half, though, saw Leicester make the best chances and once again Petr Cech was there to save Arsenal. Cech saved brilliantly off a Vardy header which was nodded down over Bellerin and then Cech had another save when a wickedly curled Kante shot nearly caught him out.

Wenger was forced to substitute Chambers for Koscielny at half time and the Gunners came out of the tunnel with renewed energy to start. Almost immediately, Ramsey had a shot to start the first half and within three minutes of the restart Leicester’s Danny Simpson picked up his first yellow card.

Mahrez dove in similar fashion to Vardy in the second half, but having already awarded one penalty Atkinson didn’t feel like adding another.

Atkinson did feel like sending a player off and it was Leicester City’s Danny Simpson who got the red card. Replays showed Simpson, already on a yellow, clearly holding Giroud’s arm after the Frenchman had turned him inside out like a tube sock.

Down to 10 men, Leicester went into their shell and Wenger responded with an attacking substitution. Wenger took off Coquelin for Walcott and the gamble paid off. Bellerin played a cross in to Giroud, who nodded the ball down perfectly for Walcott to score.

That was Theo Walcott’s first goal since scoring the winner against Manchester City on December 21st.

As the match wore down, it looked like Leicester might just win a point. Arsenal were looking tired from all of their effort to get back into the game. So, Wenger brought on Welbeck, whose last goal for Arsenal was March 9th 2015 when he scored the winner against Manchester United.

Welbs added some freshness to the Arsenal attack. Almost immediately, Mertesacker had a chance, his glanced header from Özil’s cross just missed the target.

Giroud nodded another ball down, this time to Danny Welbeck but the Englishman couldn’t kick the rust off his legs and his shot fell easily to Schmeichel.

Giroud had a shot moments later but his wicked shot was saved by Schmeichel.

Arsenal were all over them in the final stages. Ramsey had a shot from a Monreal cutback. Walcott had a shot from a Giroud cutback. Leicester were on the ropes.

It looked like it was going to be a classic case of Arsenal leaving it all a bit late when Leicester sub Marcin Wasilewski clattered Monreal on an aerial challenge in the 94th minute. Özil took the free kick and got his delivery inch perfect for Danny Welbeck who simply nodded the ball past Schmeichel.

The Emirates stadium erupted in joy and Welbeck celebrated with the fans in the corner, collecting a yellow from Atkinson for showing his emotions.

In this craziest of seasons, Arsenal are now back within two points of the team that was nearly relegated last season and the title race is back on.

Qq

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